Hotmail Tip

Joined Apr 30, 2001
If you have a Hotmail account - or if you've used Microsoft Passport - for more than a month, there's something you need to check. Or, more accurately, uncheck. Quickly.

A small publication known as The Eastside Journal, based in Bellevue, Washington , reports that Microsoft has taken, uh, liberties with your confidential information.

A bit of history. Microsoft bought Hotmail in January 1998. It's still the number-one location for free email: log on to and you can send and receive email messages at no charge.
Almost 120,000,000 people use the system, worldwide. A couple of years ago, Microsoft hooked up Hotmail to its Passport system. Variously known as Microsoft Passport, Windows Passport, MSN Passport, and/or .NET Passport, all of the names refer to Microsoft's giant central database of customer information.

If you want to use Hotmail, you have to sign up for a Passport - and in so doing you're added to the Passport database. Microsoft Messenger requires a Passport, too. Windows XP nags mercilessly, offering all sorts of goodies to get you to divulge your name, address, age, phone number, and the like, as grist for the Passport maw.

If you signed up for Hotmail - or anything else that uses Passport - more than a couple of months ago, you may be in for a big surprise. It seems that Microsoft changed the rules while you weren't looking. Unilaterally, Microsoft may have granted itself permission to pass along your personal information to other companies that use Passport on their Web sites. The personal information includes your email address, your birthday, your country and zip code, your gender and occupation.

Has Microsoft taken liberties with your data? There's an easy way to check. Go into Hotmail. Click Options (to the right of the tab that says "Address Book". Click Personal (members)Profile (in the upper left corner). Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and see whether the boxes marked "Share my e-mail address" and "Share my other registration information" have been checked.

Those boxes didn't exist when I signed up for Hotmail, and chances are pretty good they didn't exist when you signed up for it, either. I certainly never gave Microsoft permission to hand out my email address - or my birthday, gender or occupation. I'd rather be dipped in oil. Yet both of those boxes on my personal profile were checked. I bet they're checked on your personal profile, too.

Details are still murky, but it looks like Microsoft added those two check boxes a couple of months ago, and did itself a big favor by checking both of them for all of the Passport holders at the time. I for one un checked that sucker! I also wrote myself a note & its on my computer to check each email address I have when I go back to them next & do this to each & everyone of them. Just thought you would like to know.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Son of a gun, Nancy! You are right. They had done exactly as you described. I have undone it. Maybe I'll quit getting the spam I've been getting in the last month or so. Before that, my filtering system allowed just about none to get through.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
Last Saturday, my account was full to 100% capacity. I have my filter set on exclusive (no e-mails in the inbox from anyone not on my address book) and all the junk was with the junk. I didn't have one legitimate e-mail but I had (and this is not a typo): 964 e-mails from the exact same source asking: "Is the size right?"

I usually skim the junk to see if there is anything from someone I might actually know who's e-mail addy is not in my address book. I couldn't even skim this, it totalled about 13 pages of junk. I emptied the folder and fired off an e-mail to Hotmail to which I got no reply.

Why was that action not illegal? That mass sending of the same message could very well have prevented me from receiving legitimate e-mail which infringes on my rights.

I created my Hotmail account in 1996 or so and that day was the first time I really considered dumping it.

I went into Hotmail right after reading this and you were RIGHT!!! The two offending boxes were checked and I un-checked them. Why is this unauthorized sharing, in fact falsified permission NOT against the law???
Joined Oct 6, 2001
Thanks Nancya!

For any of you with a yahoo account or yahoo account with an e-groups membership, the same thing happened. Just edit your profile to take out all the check marks.

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